Part 2 The WaveSisters sustainability series
5 tips for more sustainability during your surfing holiday.
- Sustainable travel in the off-season.
You’ve heard it somewhere: travelling in the off-season is more sustainable than travelling when everyone else does. But why is that so?
This is not so much a matter of protecting the climate as of doing a favour to local people. Thus, we act in a socially more sustainable way. For the population in the host country, mass tourism during the peak travel season can be quite exhausting. Full line-ups with Germans, Austrians and English who are not familiar with local customs and surf etiquette put the nerves of the locals to the test. There is more (drinking) water used than the rest of the year, infinite amounts of garbage are produced and the streets are full of rental cars. If you are a tourist without being part of the mass tourism, at least you relieve the destination a little bit.
You also do something good for the local people, as you still provide an income in tourism during the quiet period of the year. This is not only easy on the nerves of the locals but also on your wallet, because the prices in the low season are much cheaper than at the times when tourists are pushing through the destination.
- Local vs. global: sustainable shopping during your surfing holiday.
A big discounter which is familiar with home is tempting and very practical abroad. Huge supermarket chains pop up where many people spend their holidays and take away customers from the local market. Besides they destroy the local scenery on the side.
Since we can’t avoid this and everyone likes to run in Lidl and Co from time to time, you can at least try to visit the local market or mini-markets for everyday purchases. You can get fruits, vegetables, fresh bread and fish in excellent quality at the weekly markets, which take place at least once a week in most holiday regions in Europe.
Speaking of fish: Just because you are on holiday on the coast does not mean that every fish here is always fresh and from the region. Many areas in Portugal or Spain are generally or for certain fish species overfished and the demand for seafood has to be supplied from elsewhere. It`s better to ask in local restaurants for the fish of the day or regional fish species to do something good for you and the environment.
One way to check which fish should reach your plate is the WWF. This clearly arranged shopping guides for fish and seafood with a simple traffic light system show you the types of fish that you can eat according to the organization depending on the country you are in.
- It`s about riding a wave not a car: The environmentally friendly spot selection.
You peel out of bed in the morning, you grap your board and you want to dive right into the waves. With the best conditions of course. The forecast was good, but during the spot-check onsite you notice that it somehow looks different than predicted on Magicseaweed. So back in the car and drive on. Like this surfing quickly becomes a motorsport and instead of gliding over the water you glide over the asphalt for hours. To avoid this and to use as little fuel as possible, try this:
- Look at the forecast as usual and pick out possible spots for the next days.
- Before you leave, check the webcams, which now give a good picture of the waves on many European coasts. These webcams are provided on different sites. The best known are Magicseaweed for worldwide locations and meo.beachcamfor Portugal. Bit by bit webcam providers try to show more spots. The best thing to do is to google “beachcam” or “webcam” and the name of the region or beach, so that you can find the right provider for your nearest spot. If it still looks like you want it, you can then set off.
- Once you have arrived, you do a spot check. Find a high point where you have a good overview. Do you see surfers having fun? Is the wave height according to your level and can you see how you get out and back again? Then stop wasting your time and start paddling! Conditions can change quickly, wind can come up and especially when surfing, Fomo (Fear of missing out) has no place. If you spend your morning looking for better and better spots, you will end up not getting into the water at all or only when the line-up is crowded, and you have run out of fuel.
- Bye bye plastic!
“Do you drink the water here?” is one of the first questions asked by new guests in surf camps and surf hostels. Insecure travellers who have heard countless horror stories about contaminated tap water rather buy containers of water in the supermarket than give it a try.
In fact, the drinking water in great surfing areas is often really quite bad. At least in terms of taste it leaves a lot to be desired, whereas diseases in Europe are usually not transmitted via tap water. As a consequence, we have to run into the next supermarket and get huge plastic canisters of drinking water to be sufficiently hydrated. Right? For less plastic bottle garbage in travel destinations, which often don’t have the means to recycle this garbage properly, you can consider the following purchases:
- A water filter for the trip, which you can put on a drinking bottle and get filtered water directly. These filters clean with activated carbon. There are different suppliers and models with straw or activated carbon rod. Do your research and find out which option is ideal for you.
- Water purification tablets: There are different drops or tablets that make tap water compatible. Unfortunately, these tablets have a smack in them. With a splash of lemon and well chilled, you can make the water drinkable.
- You can also simply boil the water in a large pot and then pour it into a drinking bottle when it has cooled down.
- Close your eyes and go for it: As long as the drinking water is not contaminated with suspended solids or a warning to drink it is expressly given, you can fill your water bottle and “enjoy” it for the duration of your stay. If you experience severe side effects, you can always get a filter or boil the water.
- If you are staying longer in one place, you can also consider buying a reverse osmosis machine. It costs about 200 euros and is worthwhile if you move to an area where the wave quality is more constant than the water quality.
- The 2-minute Ocean Clean-up
It doesn’t hurt to put a swimming plastic bag into your wetsuit and throw it into a recycling container outside. It’s also not too much trouble to pick up some cigarette butts left on the beach by careless smokers or to combine the warm-up with a round of beach clean-up.
Sure, these actions won’t save the world, but you might save a seagull from choking on the plastic plug, save a fish from dying from the toxins in the cigarette butt, or prevent other creatures from feeding their offspring any garbage. You might even inspire other beachgoers not to leave their garbage on the beach or even pick it up and put it in the bin.
We hope the blog post was fun and brought new input! See you soon in the waves!